Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center


  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:




A biopsy is a test of tissue from the body. A lab will check the sample to look for signs of change or disease.

Reasons for Procedure

This test is done to look for the cause of:

  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Growth

It may also be done to find out if there is cancer or to help diagnose:

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Scarring

Smoking may raise the risk of problems.

What to Expect

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, more pain, bleeding, or leaking fluid
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicine you have been given
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Prior to Procedure

The biopsy team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the biopsy
  • Fasting before the biopsy, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from the biopsy




  • Biopsies—overview. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=biopgen. Accessed September 15, 2020.
  • Biopsy. Cancer.Net website. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/diagnosing-cancer/tests-and-procedures/biopsy. Accessed September 15, 2020.


  • Shawna Grubb, RN
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.